National Qualifications (New Materials for Teachers)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 22nd May 2013.

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Photo of Neil Findlay Neil Findlay Labour

12. To ask the Scottish Government whether concerns have been expressed about the new materials that have been provided to teachers to support the new national qualifications. (S4O-02146)

Photo of Alasdair Allan Alasdair Allan Scottish National Party

Education Scotland worked closely with directors of education and others to develop a strong, comprehensive package of course materials for all 95 national 4 and national 5 courses. More than 15,000 practitioners have accessed the materials to date. Thus far, the total number of teachers who have expressed any concerns over the content to Education Scotland is two.

The course materials are exemplars. The flexibility of curriculum for excellence means that there is no one set course. Teachers are free to use the materials, draw from them and adapt them for their local contexts or to develop their own courses.

Photo of Neil Findlay Neil Findlay Labour

At briefings with ministers and civil servants, we were assured that all teachers now had well-developed resources and materials and that they were all tooled up for teaching all phases of the curriculum. However, we have reports from teaching unions and others that in some subjects, such as maths and the sciences, teachers are complaining that what they have received is unsatisfactory. What is the Scottish Government doing to speak to teachers and the teaching unions about those concerns?

Photo of Alasdair Allan Alasdair Allan Scottish National Party

The Government takes seriously the need to engage with teachers and we recognise the need for teachers to be satisfied with the materials that they have. Overall, the Educational Institute of Scotland welcomed the issuing of materials and in particular the distribution of final assessment support papers on 30 April.

The Scottish Qualifications Authority has produced sample exam papers in addition to Education Scotland’s professional focus papers. There have been 150 events around the country at which Education Scotland and other agencies have sought teachers’ views, and the Government and Education Scotland always stand ready to ensure that teachers are satisfied with the new exams.

I stress that the materials that are being provided are exemplars. One purpose of curriculum for excellence is to allow teachers the freedom to teach in the way that they believe is best fitted to achieving the aims that we all share.

Photo of George Adam George Adam Scottish National Party

Will the minister join me in welcoming the comments from former Her Majesty’s senior chief inspector Graham Donaldson? He told The Times Educational Supplement Scotland that

“We in Scotland are in a strong position internationally—Curriculum for Excellence, I’m quite clear, is the right agenda”.

Photo of Alasdair Allan Alasdair Allan Scottish National Party

I certainly welcome those comments and the fact that there is international interest in curriculum for excellence and in what is happening in Scotland’s schools. I feel that curriculum for excellence is now becoming what happens in Scotland’s schools; it is no longer merely a theory, and we can all do a great deal to work together to ensure that further positive interest is taken—both nationally and internationally—in what we are doing.